In the famous book “The Art of War”, by Sun Tzu, one of the main passages states that the “supreme art of war is to defeat the enemy without fighting”. That is, in many cases it is preferable to avoid direct confrontation and seek other methods to overcome problems/opponents.
This maxim was written in the 4th century BC, but it remains valid even in times of digital acceleration. After all, if a large part of social relations already takes place virtually, it was inevitable that war and military confrontations would follow the same path.
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which has been going on since February, is just the latest example of how the war can play out in the digital sphere.
Ukrainian state banks and the Ministry of Defense itself suffered cyber attacks, especially at the beginning of the invasion.
DDoS (denial of service) attacks are constant on essential services in an attempt to paralyze them to harm the local population, hinder communication and even prevent possible military reactions.
In times of war, one of the main measures adopted is to attack strategic points of the adversary. Currently, this also involves the digital environment.
As data is the “new oil” and serves as the raw material for technological solutions and applications that shape our lives, it is evident that it becomes the most targeted target. In “real” bombings, the attacks target factories and supplies; in the “virtual” ones, they seek to render useless what facilitates the daily lives of people and companies.
Cybersecurity, therefore, assumes the leading role not only in times of peace, but especially in situations of war.
Protecting digital information is a necessary strategy to preserve the “real” life of the population.
Can you imagine if the enemy had access to all civilian habits, including medical information and financial transactions? Well, the damage could be incalculable.
That is why the armed forces of different countries continually invest in training the military and, above all, in technological innovation.
In recent years it has become clear to everyone that wars always involve bloodshed, but that they now also involve the exchange of bytes and not just shots.
Digital warfare can also be lethal
The warfare potential of cyber warfare can be as devastating as advancing with tanks and heavy artillery. Like other areas, military strategy also depends on data to be most effective.
This is a basic and old premise. Having access to enemy side information helps you identify vulnerabilities and, of course, plan successful attacks. This goes for everything, including killing soldiers.
The point is that waging all-cyber warfare also takes considerable resources and time from the military. Thus, even with all the existing technological advances, it is still unimaginable to think that the military can stay day and night trying to invade systems and steal strategic data.
The virtual conflict is not yet a protagonist, even in the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. Its function is to be an adjunct in a larger planning.
In other words: cyber warfare is one of the means and not the end of an armed conflict between countries. Its main objective is precisely to “tired” the enemy.
By hacking an important system one day, taking down an application the next, and making financial transactions difficult even for a short period, it is possible to gradually undermine trust and rival strategy — in fact, another lesson from the book “The Art of War” .
So don’t wait for massive cyberattacks that bring down the main technological solutions used by civilians and military alike.
If a war is usually decided in the smallest details, it is in this gray area that digital conflicts will develop.
Much more effective than advancing troops through villages is to leave these isolated and vulnerable places, without the main technological tools that are the basis of social relations today.
Cyber security first
A war or conflict, even more so with the involvement of a country like Russia, changes the world — for better or for worse.
There are two sides of the coin: while civilians suffer from attacks, several innovations emerge on this journey.
It’s been that way since antiquity. In the most recent cases, including the dispute between Russians and Ukrainians, it is observed that cybersecurity has finally assumed a prominent role in different spheres of society.
The concern with the protection of digital information has gained new contours precisely because of the potential they have to serve as weapons in the wrong hands.
Any data exposed on the web could be the loophole hackers need to break into entire systems. In many cases, simply monitoring social media can provide valuable insights into military strategy. The traditional espionage work, but this time in the digital environment.
Governments, large companies and even some conscientious citizens have already noticed this surveillance scenario.
No wonder, global investment in cybersecurity is expected to jump from US$165.7 billion in 2021 to US$366.1 billion in 2028, according to forecasts by Fortune Business Insights.
In Brazil alone, fear of attacks caused 83% of companies to spend more on tools of this type, according to the PwC Digital Trust Insights 2022 survey — even before an armed conflict erupted in Eastern Europe and put the world on its guard. .
Faced with the digital acceleration caused by the covid-19 pandemic and the evolution of technology in different sectors, sooner or later cybersecurity would take control in the public debate.
What the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine did was only reinforce the importance and necessity of the matter. Because the protection of digital data has proved to be essential when everything is at peace; but it is literally a matter of survival in times of war.